Before you use a jewelry cleaner on your beaded jewelry, consider first what types of materials and beads you have used. While jewelry cleaner is very effective at removing tarnish from sterling silver, fine silver and some other metals, it may have an adverse effect on other items.

Some types of jewelry cleaner can discolor leather thonging, some beads and cheap metals. To preserve your jewelry, or to return it to its former glory, decide what jewelry cleaner technique will work for you.

How to clean jewelry

Glass or crystal beads

Glass beads need only a wipe over with a soft cloth from time to time, to ensure that they are free from dust and exterior grime.

These types of surface coatings reduce the appearance of the beads. They prevent the refraction of light through the bead, which is how these types of beads create their beautiful optical effects.

If more than a wipe over is needed to keep your jewelry cleaner, then be careful not to overdo it. Do not immerse your beads in water, use only a damp cloth with a small amount of dish soap if desired.

Full strength, commercial jewelry cleaner is not needed for cleaning these beads. Like any other glass object, they are best preserved by regular polishing and maintenance.

Plastic beads

Use water, soap, cloths or sponges. Most jewelry cleaners will not cause a problem to plastic beads. Only abrasive, stripping cleaners will pose a threat to their shiny surfaces, leaving them dull and clouded.

Wooden beads

Wooden beads should only be cleaned with a soft cloth, or slightly wet sponge. The use of furniture polish is an interesting option for naturally finished beads, but never to be used on colored ones. Their porous surface means you have to be quite careful to avoid discoloration.

Leather thonging

If you have used leather thonging in a beaded project, take off all the beads and treat the leather with boot polish in the appropriate color. Certain oils or conditioners for leather are also worth a try.

They make sure that the leather does not crack or become too brittle over time. If this occurs, restring the beads onto a new piece.

Fine or sterling silver

Tarnish forms as a layer of black across the surface of a silver object. It occurs when the metal is oxidized by elements within the air.

Tarnish is easiest to clean when it can be seen and has built up. This is good news if you have been slack with caring for your silver jewelry. You could claim you were just waiting for the right amount of tarnish to accumulate!

To prevent the build-up of tarnish affecting the look of your silver finished beadwork, jewelry cleaner should be used regularly to maintain the bright and shiny appearance.

The most effective way of ensuring that the silver remains free of tarnish is to wear it often - this is a tried and tested way of keeping your jewelry tarnish free.

Toothpaste is another old wives tale that claims to be able to remove tarnish effectively, although it can be quite abrasive. Do not use on smooth or fine silver.

Gold-filled or solid gold

Treat gold-filled metal as you would regular gold.

Use proper jewelry cleaner purchased from a jewelry store, and make sure that you maintain its shine.

Remember that dull gold can start to take an unappealing look - regular maintenance is the key.

Base metals

Base metals do not normally have any type of external protection, and as a result they lose their color very quickly. This type of metal should not be treated with proper jewelry cleaner, as their metal would become degraded and turn black.

Avoid any moisture, hair-spray or other chemicals at all costs to prolong the life of the jewelry.

If in doubt?

Never assume that your beaded jewelry will handle any jewelry cleaner well. Always test on excess metal or beads if possible before you clean those set within your jewelry.

If in doubt, only use a soft cloth or cotton swab to polish, with perhaps the smallest amount of moisture on the cloth.

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